Colonel Douglas H. Cooper, Confederate commander of the Indian Department, had not been able to reconcile differences with Chief Opothleyahola, who commanded a band of Unionist Creeks and Seminoles.
Cooper set out on November 15, 1861, with about 1,400 men to either compel submission . . . or "drive him and his party from the country." His force rode up the Deep Fork of the Canadian River towards Chief Opothleyahola's camp which they found deserted.
On the 19th, Cooper learned from captured prisoners that part of Chief Opothleyahola's band was at the Red Fork of the Arkansas River, where they were erecting a fort. Cooper's men arrived there around 4:00 pm and ordered a cavalry charge which discovered that Chief Opothleyahola's band had recently abandoned the camp.
The Confederates did find some stragglers beyond the camp and followed them, blundering into Chief Opothleyahola's camp.
The Federals fired into the Rebel cavalry and, in large force, came out to attack them. They chased the Confederates back to Cooper's main force. Darkness prevented Cooper from attacking until the main enemy force was within 60 yards. A short fight ensued but Chief Opothleyahola's men broke it off and retreated back to their camp.
Cooper set out for Chief Opothleyahola's camp the next morning but found it gone. The Confederates claimed victory because Chief Opothleyahola had left the area. This was the first of three encounters between Chief Opothleyahola's Union bands and Confederate troops.
The chief was forced to flee Oklahoma for Kansas at the end of the year.
Result(s): Confederate victory
Campaign: Operations in the Indian Territory (1861)
Date(s): November 19, 1861
Principal Commanders: Chief Opothleyahola [I]; Colonel Douglas H. Cooper [CS]
Forces Engaged: Creek and Seminole [I]; Indian Department [CS]
Estimated Casualties: Unknown
The American Indian in the Civil War, 1862-1865
The 1862 Battle of Pea Ridge, a bloody disaster for the confederates but a glorious moment for Colonel Stand Watie and his Cherokee Mounted Rifles. The Indians were soon enough swept by the war into a vortex of confusion and chaos.
An eight-part documentary that explores the history of the indigenous peoples of North and Central America, from pre-Colombian times through the period of European contact and colonization, to the end of the 19th century and the subjugation of the Plains Indians of North America
Indian Warriors - The Untold Story of the Civil War
Some 20-30 thousand Native Americans fought in the Civil War. Ely Parker was a Seneca leader who found himself in the thick of battle at the side of General Ulysses S. Grant. Stand Waite, a Confederate General and a Cherokee was known for his brilliant guerilla tactics
Civil War on the Western Border, 1854-1865
Fanatical politics of the western frontier, immigrant abolitionists with loaded Spencer rifles funded by mysterious personages back East, cut-throats, gin heads and horse thieves, colorful character descriptions